Trying out a new beer recipe and saving energy cooking

The beer I’m making is an English wheat porter type, and is something from my own imagination. It’s bubbling along and I’m excited to see how it turns out. The lager I did was a big hit so that will be one to get ready for the holidays. I tried out my “Growler” and it did okay for carbonating but I have read about them exploding.  I don’t want to deal with 2 liters of beer and broken glass so I used one of my empty soda pop bottles for carbonating  then carefully poured the beer into the growler. I was amazed that there was no loss of carbonation and the growler worked great maintaining the beer’s taste and fizz.  My growler is made of thick glass and cost $20.50 at the beer lady’s shop and 2 liters is equal to almost a six pack or beer. If you have a craft beer lover or making your own beer I think the growler would make a great gift.

One of the critical things when making all grain beer is maintaining a temp. of 154-160 degrees F. for sixty to ninety minutes.  I have been using my electric stove on low heat for that step, but I have seen a few youtubes about just wrapping up the pots in thick towels/blankets to using a Igloo insulated water container so I tried the towel wrap method for the porter.  First, I heated the water up to 170 degrees F.  turned off the heat and added my room temprature grain to pots. I checked the temp a couple of times because I wasn’t all that confident it would work but it did a great job and past the iodine test at the 60 minute mark.  This is great news and a huge energy saver because I don’t have to keep my electric stove on for an hour to ninety minutes and I can heat up the water on my wood stove and then just wrap the pots to make the mash.

Now this little experiment is proof that you can use an idea like the hot box/hay box when people saved as much energy as possible cooking.  Heck, just wrapping the two thick over sized beach towels around my pots saved me the power cost from two burners for over an hour. If you saw Kellene’s video about using a small butane stove and a hot box could give a cheap source of cooking and the ability to store a year of fuel is a small space.  It got me to thinking about how I could make a hot box and it would not be very hard and could be very cheap because you can use things like old or shredded news paper to insulate your pot.  I started thinking about some the materials I have on hand like the big burlap bags I got from the neighbor that works as a barista at a coffee shop. Then I remembered as a kid we had a home made evaporation fridge made from some burlap bags, a few boards for shelves that were all held together by some rope run though the four corners of the wood to make shelves.  You need a bit of water and a breeze for the burlap cooler to work, but it folds flat for storage and might help as a backup fridge if the power goes out and works great for camping!

I have few different ideas on how to put together the hot box and burlap fridge. But I thought I would share the basic concept with you all so if you need something like it you can get to work and make your own.  I don’t know if this could be something you could sell, trade or barter, but I figure anything you can build that save energy is worth a little effort if it only helps yourself.

4 Responses to Trying out a new beer recipe and saving energy cooking

  1. Dannyboy53 says:

    Hi Jamie, I am very interested in this burlap cooler you speak of. This is the first time I have heard of such a “contraption” I’m going to check the internet for some diagrams/ instructions aiding in building one.

    Thank you!

    • Jamie says:

      Danny, It’s amazing how many ways folks used to work around not having electricity and were frugal with any energy they used.

  2. Dannyboy53 says:

    Yes Jamie it is, and it’s a shame that much of that knowledge has been lost through the years as we became dependent on “modern conveniences”! That has been the way of many aspects of our lives.

    I found out the burlap cooler works on the same basic principle as the Lyster (Lister) bags the military used. I remember them from my days in boot camp at Ft Dix in 1973!

    I checked at this web site ( and found a simple way to make the burlap coolers you wrote about, in fact I have all the materials needed to construct one!

    I remember my Dad telling me how they used local springs in north central Louisiana to store perishables, constructing stone-lined pits beside the spring-head so that cool water was constantly washing over and covering the contents of eggs, milk, butter, etc!

    I thank you so much for your posts and the many practical ideas you present!

    Keep ’em coming Lady!

    • Jamie says:

      My Dad used an old wooden fruit or vegatable crate in a creek when camping. That is similar to the spring-head idea. I think you could use one of those plastic storage crates or laundry baskets. Don’t forget to tie a rope to it so it doesn’t float away!

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